• 66°

I'm Special

With the proliferation of first cable TV and then the mini satellite dishes, the world of sports and entertainment is just a click of the remote away.

-Except, however, at the Chapman house. We don't have either cable or satellite. Oh, we do have a TV and all, but we rely on a beat-up aerial that survived Hurricane Isabel several years back for over-the-air channels -when, of course, the weather isn't too disagreeable.

We sport along without ESPN.

Don't explode over TNT.

And just deal, sans all-news channels and even Disney every day.

I'm tight, of course, but beyond that, the family has learned to survive on the free stuff and an expansive collection of DVDs.

The last time we had satellite service was years ago when the big black moon-size dish in the yard tapped in for a handful of channels. It wasn't HD back in those days, but I liked it because (with some limitations) we could buy the services I wanted and not get stuck paying for things I would never watch.

There's nothing like seeing hard-earned money going somewhere you don't want it to go like, say MTV.

The new smaller dishes have limited package deal offerings, but there is much less freedom to choose and you're stuck with things (albeit in HD) that you still don't want.

Recently, I read, that only about 15 percent of the households nation-wide choose to live as we do, relying solely on over-the-air signals.

Fifteen percent? Wow, have things sure changed when such programming was a luxury and not a necessity.

While we do so enjoy HD service (yes, that's available over the air for most major broadcasts at no cost) at my house, the rest we can live without. Besides, when you have children in the home, it's best not to have so many cartoon or tween viewing options available at the push of a button. They're supposed to experience the joy of reading anyway and take care of the mound of homework that comes home two thirds of the year. TV is frequently a distraction for the need-to-have-done list-and less distraction is better.

If you haven't tried regular free TV in awhile, it's not near as bad as it sounds. We get all the major networks on a good day, three PBS stations, an “Antenna TV” channel (which broadcasts old shows) and This TV, which airs a lot of old movies.

There are some things the sports fan in me still misses – half the NASCAR season (since only half of it is on free TV), a healthy dose of ACC basketball games (since most don't interrupt regular programming like they used to), and some water-cooler shows.

Of course, I still like to grumble about some of the things I miss as more and more sports entertainment shifts to cable. I can't even see all of the baseball playoffs like just a few years ago-or even all the major college bowl games. October baseball made for some blurry-eyed days after, but what drama. College football-wow, it used to be fun watching game after game after game on New Year's Day.

But things change and I'm just not willing to go along and, on the whole, we're better off without Keeping Up With The Kardashians, visiting Jersey Shore, or getting inundated with advice from Oprah's OWN network. If I'm really interested in sports as they're happening, I can go online.

I'll concede today's network TV has some limitations. When so-called reality shows are the most family friendly entertainment after eight o'clock and even promo commercials shown during otherwise non-offense programs become offensive themselves, all is not well.

So we do have an extensive collection of DVDs that include many of our old favorite TV shows growing up. DVDs are nice. You can watch, pause and watch them again any time you want without commercials.

Older is often better on the whole.

But whenever we need/can use it, that old beat up aerial is still receiving free signals. Call me strange, unusual, or just someone crazy enough to be in the 15 percent group.